It’s one year before the 2008 presidential primary actually begins, and already the field is overflowing with contenders, pretenders, rock stars, hangers-on, early risers, late bloomers, and nice guys who will finish last. So feverish is the media excitement over this race that only the death of a real horse, Barbaro, could knock Rupert Murdoch’s new favorite candidate, Hillary Clinton, off the cover of the New York Post. With a billion-plus dollars expected to circulate throughout the 2008 campaign, media barons like Murdoch certainly stand to gain. The rest of us will just have to watch and see what we get out of the deal.
On the Democratic side, nearly all the candidates seem to favor some form of universal health care and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Both are worthy goals, but the specifics of the candidates’ actual plans seem a bit murky. Such a statement nevertheless may be hopelessly naïve on my part—after all, in the age of celebrity politicians, what really matters is that our leaders appear to understand our position and be on our side. The Republican hopefuls also include an array of Iraq war critics and some candidates who are at least concerned about health care. Why the frontrunner, John McCain, has embraced Bush’s foolish call for a “surge” in Iraq is puzzling, but as one leading veteran of the political trenches recently told me, “When McCain doesn’t believe something but it’s popular, he’ll fake it. But when he really believes something, even it’s unpopular, he’ll support it.” Now that’s leadership.
A third, perhaps even more important issue—global warming—may, or may not, heat up the race. But rest assured, Senators Clinton, Obama and McCain strongly oppose it, and no contender to date has staked out a pro-global warming position, although it’s still early (or perhaps too late). Are melting ice caps the new mushroom clouds? If and when An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s hybrid vehicle, wins the Oscar for Best Documentary, will Gore join the battle royal for the Democratic nomination? With one year to go, all I can say is this: so many questions, so much time.